This isn't going to be the typical book review like I've written. This one is different, because this book is different. I told myself I wouldn't cry but darn it, when I hit page 246 it was all over for me....
Hazel and Augustus have cancer, which is sad enough in and of itself, but not when they are together. Separately, these characters live in their oblivion and inevitable death, but together, they sparkle. Try as they might, cancer beat them in the footrace of their lives...
Green's writing is STELLAR (and this is not a pun on his book title either) and truly flows. It's not only his style of writing, but the words he chooses, the characters he introduces as satellites around Hazel and Augustus, and the glimpses he gives to the readers about the life of these particular teens living with cancer. Green writes with wit and humor hand-in-hand with all seriousness. It's an oxymoron he creates with balance. I don't think I ever laughed out loud, but I did find a plethora of emotion...love, hate, anger, happiness, pain, bliss, to name a few...
Green even created a book-within-a-book so well, you'd have to do a Google search on the book referred to in The Fault in Our Stars to realize how many times people (including myself, I admit) did a search for it.
This is one truly talented author. One of the best books I've read bar none. Recommended for...well for anyone who wants to take on the "I dare you not to cry before finishing this book" dare. I can't WAIT to give it someone else RIGHT NOW!!!
Recommended by Naomi Bates, Librarian, Texas, USA
Hazel and Augustus are cancer-kids. Hazel is living with it and Augustus is in remission, living with the after-effects. Both have their own way of dealing, and both turn to the other for the forgetting and getting on with life. When the two are together, you'd never know they weren't just simple teenagers. Teenagers with a very mature understanding of life and relationships that can really only come with surviving the things that life throws at them and their friends from a cancer support group. They are dating, sort of, and they do have sex, but it’s so very well written, that really all you know is that it's something that might happen, then you turn the page (literally) and it did. No details.
But it's not all crying. No, there's quite a bit of laughing, some anger, some introspection. It's a thinking book. It's a "get lost in the story" book. For me, it was a "please don't interrupt me while I'm reading this because it's IMPORTANT" book.
It's not often I think I've learned some universal truth from a YA novel. Heck, from a novel. But I certainly did learn something of profound importance from Augustus Waters. In a letter to an adult that Hazel and Augustus had the..uh...honor (cough, cough) of meeting, Augustus writes, "You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers."
--Jennifer Turney, Librarian at Angleton High School, Texas USA
Raw and honest are two adjectives I would lavish on this story. Did I cry? Nope. Do I usually cry? Yep. So what's up with that?
A little bit I feel like just leaving this alone. So many people have written glowing reviews of this story. So many people have loved it and gone through their tissue boxes.
This books has all the ingredients to make you start with the snuffling and you are going to love these characters. They have courage and have decided to cut through the nonsense of the games people play and just get down to the important things in the time they have left to them.
Hazel Grace is about sixteen and has a cancer that is beating her. She lives her life tied to a canister of oxygen with nubbins tucked into her nose. I don't think she's going to be featured on the cover of Seventeen magazine any time soon. She is the lucky daughter of a father who is comfortable showing his feelings and a mother who is determined to savor every moment of the gift of motherhood and to find something of value in the difficult hand they have been dealt.
Hazel goes to a cancer Support Group where kids, led by the ball-less survivor Patrick, have a chance to connect with, share with, kids who are living on the same playing field. Here she has made a true friend, Isaac.
Now these kids know what it's like for life to come to a screeching halt and hand them a wrenching left turn onto an unexpected, frightening and unknown path. Along with their families they are dealing with the day to day consequences of their physical limitations and their social limitations. Friends lost. Basketball team no more.
And sometimes life comes along and screeches to a halt and finds you something wonderful and that's what happens when Hazel Grace meets Augustus Waters, boy with prosthetic leg who has beaten cancer and now wants to share time with her. Talk about being loved for who you really are.
John Green writes these kids rising above their predicted story line and makes them authentic people who are kicking off the chains of cancer. That's amazing. Their conversations are beyond what you would hope for. These are human beings who are really in love with life and living and willing to wring every drop out of it with the love of each other. See why the hankies are important?
But what I rebelled against through this story is the idea that you can "choose" who will hurt you. If only that were true. I just could not let go of the kids who read Ellen Hopkins' stories and the kids who read Chris Crutcher. Those kids have adults in their lives who are missing the essential ingredients... trust, empathy, love, respect for human life. Where Hazel and Augustus are loved and treasured in their families, they are being challenged by a disease that is their enemy or has been their enemy.
For me being authentic isn't enough. Sometimes it's downright dangerous. Some kids don't have a choice. What they need is the message that life holds love, joy, and meaning. Real meaning. Hospitals are sterile places where cancer kids go. This book, despite its incredible poignancy, and its brilliant characters had a hole in it that needed filling... and a different kind of feeling... called hope.
318 pages Ages 14 and up ( some sex and language)
Recommended by: Barb
If you like this book: Try SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY by Julie Murphy, NOTES FROM THE DOG by Gary Paulsen, SLEEPING FRESHMEN NEVER LIE by David Lubar, DRUMS GIRLS AND DANGEROUS PIE by Jordan Sonnenblick